Midweek Recess: Cigars, Socks and Makeup

Welcome to Law.com’s Midweek Recess, in which we round up stories you may have missed from the week’s legal news cycle. Grab a cup of coffee and take a little break. It’s all downhill to the weekend from here.

DMV Debacle – Going to the DMV is no one’s idea of a life-affirming experience, but it takes on a new dimension of hellishness when you feel that the department is rejecting your true identity. One South Carolina teen found this out when he tried to get a driver’s license photo taken. Chase Culpepper, a gender nonconforming 16-year-old who regularly wears makeup and women’s or androgynous clothing, was told by employees of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles that he had to remove his makeup in order to have his license photo taken. The DMV employees allegedly cited a policy that prohibits a license applicant from being photographed “when it appears that he/she is purposely altering his/her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his/her identity.” Of course, in Culpepper’s view, it’s the sans makeup photo that constitutes a misrepresentation.

Backed by the The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Chase’s mother Teresa Culpepper  has filed a federal suit claiming that the DMV unconstitutionally restrained Chase’s freedom of speech and expression by prhibiting him from wearing makeup in the photo. The suit also alleges that the photo policy “discriminates on the basis of sex and sex stereotypes by allowing women to wear makeup in driver’s license photos regardless of whether they ordinarily wear it, but not allowing men to wear makeup even when it is part of their everyday appearance.”

“The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not match what they think a boy should look like,” Chase said in a statement. “I just want the freedom to be who I am without the DMV telling me that I’m somehow not good enough.”

No Socks, No Service – Indiana attorney Todd Glickfield is not a fan of socks. In fact, he loathes them so deeply that he’s risking contempt of court to avoid wearing them. Glickfield’s pet peeve came to light in a hearing before Circuit Judge Dean A. Young, who advised the attorney during a break in the proceedings that his sock-free state was a violation of the courtroom dress code. According to an order issued by Young, Glickfield responded, “I hate socks,” and said that he has had “this conversation with other judges in other courts.” Glickfield vowed to remain sockless unless the court could provide “orders or other legal authority,” to prove that he was required to wear them.

Judge Young did just that, finding that the court has the authority to maintain appropriate decorum and to enforce rules requiring attorneys “to be dressed in appropriate business attire when appearing in court.” Young also noted that Glickfield “has appeared in past proceedings without wearing a tie and while wearing an open-collared shirt.” If Glickfield appears before the court again without appropriate attire, he will be subject to sanctions, including delays and fines.

We guess we’ll give this attorney points for sticking to his principles, but we’re questioning his priorities. Is maintaining the comfort of bare ankles really such an important struggle that you need a judge to issue a three page order about it?

John Marshall Law School professor Maureen B. Collins, who spoke to the Indy Star about the matter, is also not impressed.

“While he may fancy himself the Matthew McConaughey of the Indiana Bar, this attorney should recognize that socks are part of the uniform worn by attorneys to demonstrate a respect for the formality of the courtroom and for the people whose lives are impacted by the decisions made in it,” Collins told the Indy Star. “In my opinion, the attorney should grow up and put on a pair of socks.”

Where There’s Smoke, There’s No Fire – The Nebraska Supreme Court has just banned smoking in cigar bars. Yes, for real.

The state’s legislature banned smoking in “places of employment or a public place” in 2008, but created a few exceptions, cigar bars among them. Now, the state supreme court has decided that the exception is unconstitutional because: “Allowing patrons of such shops to smoke simply because it is convenient does not comport with the purpose of the Act, which is to protect the public and employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke.”

Real talk: It’s a cigar bar. You go there to smoke cigars, or to buy cigars so you can smoke them later. Patrons of cigar bars don’t object to being exposed to smoke. They don’t want to be protected from smoke. As Judge William Cassel wrote in his dissent: “There is no rationale for a patron to enter a tobacco retail outlet other than to facilitate his or her access to firsthand smoke.

Preach, Your Honor. And, further, if people are going to smoke cigars, doing so in a place in which everyone present is comfortable with being exposed to smoke and all the risk it entails actually seems like a smart idea. The existence of cigar bars probably does more to protect people from secondhand smoke than banning smoking in such establishments.

On the whole, we feel that the smokers and non-smokers of Nebraska alike have the right to feel pretty… put out.

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